Author Archives: wentworth

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Pygmy Hippo Exhibit Now Open

The Metro Richmond Zoo is pleased to announce the opening of our new Pygmy hippo exhibit. The Pygmy hippopotamus is a rare species native to swamps and rivers in forested areas of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast. They are highly endangered, with only 3,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

At the Zoo, guests can come face to face with Corwin and Iris, our two Pygmy hippos. Corwin is a 2 year old male and Iris is an 11 year old female. The new exhibit provides our visitors with incredible views of the Pygmy hippo on land and in the water. People can interact with the hippos through our underwater viewing window.

Pygmy hippos share the same general form as the Nile hippo. However, the pygmy hippo is half as tall as the Nile hippo. Adult pygmy hippos stand 2.5-3 feet tall and are 4.9-5.7 feet in length. They weigh 350 to 600 pounds. Pygmy hippos are semi-aquatic and rely on the water to keep their skin moist and cool.

Construction on this exhibit began in the Fall of 2016. It is the Metro Richmond Zoo’s most expensive and detailed exhibit to date.


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3 White Lions Cubs

The Metro Richmond Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of 3 White lion cubs born to parents, Xonga and Basa, on April 2nd, 2018. After a 110 day gestation period, Xonga, a 3 year old, first time mother, gave birth to 1 male and 2 female cubs.

Xonga has shown excellent maternal care for her cubs. Both mom and babies are in great health. The cubs have been nursing, and they are growing rapidly. Xonga and her babies are currently in their off exhibit, private den. This allows time for the cubs and mom to bond. Once they are old enough, Xonga and her cubs will go outside on exhibit.

White lions are a rare color mutation of the African lion that occurs naturally in the Timbavati region in South Africa. They are not albino; they are leucistic, which is a lack of dark pigmentation. They get their coloring from a recessive gene known as a color inhibitor. While similar to albinism, this gene is far less severe. White lions still have pigmentation present in their eyes, paws, and lips. White lions can range in color from pale blonde to completely white. To produce a white lion, both parents must possess the recessive gene.

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ZAA Excellence in Breeding Award

The Metro Richmond Zoo is the recipient of the 2017 ZAA Excellence in Breeding award for our work in cheetah conservation! In 4 years, we have had 40 cheetah cubs born.

Zoo Director, Jim Andelin, receiving the award at the 2017 ZAA conference.

Thank you for the recognition, Zoological Association of America.

Read more about our highly successful cheetah conservation program. 

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Cheetah Cubs born July 20th, 2017

The Metro Richmond Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of 4 cheetah cubs to parents, Khari and Hatari. This is Khari’s 2nd  litter, Hatari’s 4th litter, and the Zoo’s 8th litter of cheetah cubs. Khari gave birth to 2 females and 2 males on July 20th, 2017 after a 3 month gestation.

These are the 37th, 38th, 39th, and 40th cheetah cubs born at the Metro Richmond Zoo since 2013. All four cubs are doing well and are in great health. The cubs were born in our off-exhibit Cheetah Breeding Center, but have just been moved to the cheetah exhibit in the Zoo. Khari and her 2 month old cubs can now be seen by zoo guests everyday. These are the youngest cheetah cubs we have ever had on exhibit.


The cheetah is Africa’s most endangered cat. In 1900, the cheetah population was around 100,000 individuals. However, due to habitat loss, human conflict, and illegal animal trade, the cheetah’s current wild population is in drastic decline. It is estimated there are around 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild. Cheetahs in the wild have an extremely high mortality rate. 90% of cubs die within the first three months of life. 50% of these deaths are attributed to predation and the other 40% fall victim to a lack of genetic diversity. Khari’s litter will make a significant addition to the captive cheetah population.

Come visit Khari and her cubs soon!

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Remembering Pawl

The Metro Richmond Zoo mourns the loss of Pawl, one of our male lions. He was nearly 21 years old.

Pawl came to the Metro Richmond Zoo in 2000 and was a favorite among zoo staff and visitors. He truly was the king of the Zoo as his majestic roar could be heard from all corners of the park. He quickly became one of the famous faces of the Zoo.

Pawl lived a wonderful, long life. In the wild, lions live 10-14 years. Often male lions don’t live past 10 years because they lose support from the pride when they are out of their prime years. At the Zoo, he was able to live 20 years under the care of his beloved staff.

A few years ago, Pawl began suffering from arthritis. He was sedated for a full work up and has been medicated since. Over the last couple weeks, he was having a very difficult time getting up and down and going on exhibit. We increased his meds doses, but it did not help much. Pawl stopped eating and doing some of his favorite normal behaviors.

On the morning of September 27th, Pawl was unable to get up, and it was time for us to make a very difficult decision. Our staff elected to humanely euthanize him. Pawl will always remain in the hearts of our zoo staff and guests.

Pawl is survived by Basa and Xonga, our two white lions.

10/11/1996 – 9/27/2017

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New Animal Exhibits for 2017

The Metro Richmond Zoo is always seeking new and exciting ways to expand and renovate our park! We are thrilled to unveil our big plans for 2017.

New Animal Exhibits

Pygmy Hippo 

a pygmy hippo with her baby

pygmy hippo exhibit under construction

The pygmy hippopotamus is native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, mainly Liberia. It is an endangered species with only an estimated 3,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus. However, the pygmy hippo is half as tall as the hippo and weighs less than 1/4 as much as the hippo. Adult pygmy hippos stand 2.5-3 feet tall and are 4.9-5.7 feet in length. They weigh from 350-600 pounds. Just like the hippo, pygmy hippos are semi-aquatic and rely on the water to keep their skin moist and cool. Their feet are less webbed, however, than those of the hippo, and their legs are longer than their large relative’s. Little is known about pygmy hippos in the wild. They are more rare than hippos.

At the Zoo, construction is well underway for their exhibit. Their habitat is located between Kumbali & Kago and the servals. The exhibit will contain grassy fields, a mud pit, and a large pool for the pygmy hippos to swim in.


Giant Anteater

a wooden boardwalk will extend above the South American exhibit and down to the lake

indoor anteater shelter

The giant anteater is native to Central and South America. They are around 3.5-4 feet in length and weigh anywhere from 60-140 pounds (males weigh heavier than females). Giant anteaters don’t have any teeth. Instead, they have a specialized tongue that allows them to eat 30,000 ants and termites each day! Their slender tongue is about 24 inches long. The giant anteater has the longest tongue in relation to its body size of any mammal. They have poor eyesight, but their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than that of a human’s.

The giant anteater exhibit at the Zoo will be located between the train station and the South American exhibit (as seen in the photo above). A wooden boardwalk will extend across the exhibit and down to the lake. Visitors can walk on the elevated path and view the anteaters on the right and the tapirs, llamas, and rheas on the left. Two anteaters will arrive at the Zoo in late Spring.


15 New Exhibits in the Reptile Building

Phase 1 of our new Reptile House opened spring 2016. The phase 2 expansion will open later this year with 15 additional exhibits. The new hallway of the Reptile House will contain large multi-species displays with various reptiles.


African Clawless Otter

Our otters are getting a new home! We are building a larger habitat with underwater viewing. Guests will be able to watch the otters swim in the pool through the glass windows. This new exhibit is located down the hill from the playground.


Two Primate Islands

Construction has begun on two primate islands that can be viewed from the Safari Train Ride. These islands will be of similar design to the chimpanzee and orangutan exhibits currently in the Zoo. The water provides a natural barrier for the animals because apes can’t swim due to their heavy body mass.

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New Animal Nursery Now Open!

The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the opening of our new animal nursery!! Located next to the reptile house and meerkats, the animal nursery is where we will exhibit animal babies that our staff is hand raising due to parental neglect or health issues.

nursery         sully7

The first resident of the animal nursery is Sully, an endangered Diana monkey. He was born on May 31st to parents, Sloan and Zanaga. This was the first time, Sloan, his mother, had given birth.


She was a loving parent from the start, but after only a few days, Sully developed a bacterial infection. To survive, he had to be treated in our animal hospital with IV antibiotics for an extended period of time.


When Sully finally recuperated, he could not be reintroduced with his mom since the lack of nursing had diminished her milk supply. Sully would not have overcome this challenge in the wild, but here we can give him all of the love and care he needs in our nursery.


When he is older, he will be introduced to other Diana monkeys.

sully5 sully6

Diana monkeys are native to Western Africa. They are endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching. The Metro Richmond Zoo is proud to have one of the most successful breeding programs in the world for this struggling species. We hope you enjoy watching Sully grow up with us!


Watch this video of Sully in our new animal nursery:

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Kumbali & Kago 1st Birthday

Kumbali and Kago celebrated their first birthday on May 12, 2016. Zoo staff gave them two birthday presents.


Each box contained an ice block with meat frozen inside. The boys enjoyed ripping off the wrapping paper and eating their frozen treats.


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13 New Cheetah Cubs!

The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of 13 new cheetah cubs!

On March 21, 2016, Milani, a second time mom, gave birth to 3 cubs (2 males and 1 female) sired by Hatari.


Milani’s Cubs

On April 1, 2016 Vaila, a first time mom, gave birth to 7 cubs (this number only happens 1% of the time in cheetah births) sired by Hatari.  Unfortunately, Vaila’s inexperience as a mom showed when she did not clean the birth sac surrounding one cub and it did not survive. Also, one was born with a deformity and only lived a few hours. The remaining 5 are doing well.


Vaila’s Cubs

On April 2, 2016 Wiay, a first time mom, gave birth to 6 cubs (only happens 8% of the time) sired by Kitu. Because of her inexperience, she accidentally laid on one of the cubs shortly after birth and it did not survive. Initially Wiay’s cubs did not gain weight and thrive as well as they should. We weighed them every day, sometimes twice a day, and gave them medical attention as needed. The 5 are now all doing well with mom.


Wiay’s Cubs

Cheetah’s are endangered and the wild cheetah population is in a drastic decline with only 7,500 now left in the wild in small pocketed areas in Africa.  Breeding cheetahs in captivity is very challenging, with only a small portion of the population reproducing. The Metro Richmond Zoo has had tremendous success in breeding cheetahs. In the last 2 1/2 years we have had 36 cubs born from seven litters making a significant addition to the captive cheetah population. In addition to the number of cubs born, most of the adult cheetahs here are unrelated to the other Cheetahs in North America so the genetic value of these cubs for future breeding is extremely high. We are excited to make such an contribution towards Cheetah conservation here at the zoo.

Yes, we are going to do it again. The cheetah cam has been enjoyed by millions of people from all over the world and is currently up and running again! This time we will have 2 cams available to watch both Milani and Vaila’s cubs. They can be watched live at this link:

Cheetah Cam

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Cheetah Cub Genders

Who’s who is each litter?  Zoo staff shaves a small part of fur on each cub for quick identification.


Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
Left Front: Female


Left Front: Female
Left Rear: Female
Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
B/w Shoulder Blades: Female


Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
Left Front: Female
Left Rear: Female
B/w Shoulder Blades: Male


Read the story:

See the video:


Don’t forget to tune into the 24/7 live Cheetah Cam!

Otter Cove Now Open!

Kumbali and Kago

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